By Matt Zahn


CHICAGO (CBS) — When you think outdoor winter sports in the Midwest, you probably think more skiing or snowboarding as opposed to something played on a court.

Well, courts in the northern suburbs will be packed this weekend for a big tournament in a sport you might not know too much about.

CBS 2’s Matt Zahn has the story.

“It’s a cross between tennis and racquetball,” said Mike Marino, Director of Racquet Sports at Valley Lo Club in Glenview.

“It’s sort of like tennis, but much closer, intimate,” said Mike Rahaley, Director of Racquet Sports at Exmoor Country Club.

This is platform tennis, or paddle tennis, and many of the best players will be competing this weekend in the Chicago Charities Grand Prix, one of the biggest events in the sport.

“You get players coming in from all over the country. You get all the top players. You get local players as well, so it’s just a huge tournament,” said Marino.

“The crowd here on the quarterfinals Saturday night is 300, 400, 500, 600 people deep,” added Rahaley.

Yes, this is an outdoor sport. In Chicago. In the winter. But, there are actually heaters under the court, meaning neither rain, nor wind, not even snow can keep them from playing.

“Absolutely, as long as your court isn’t building up with snow. Most of the heaters work well. It doesn’t matter how hard it’s snowing, you’re playing,” said Marino.

“You’re able to get out and it might be 20 degrees. It sounds crazy but it relieves cabin fever,” said Rahaley.

And, the best part of this event is that they will raise money for charity. This years will benefit the Josselyn Center, a community mental health center than works on a sliding fee scale.

“Paddle players here in Chicago and around the country are generous and great people. More than fund raising, it’s friend raising and getting word the out, so it’s going to be a great event for us and for them,” said Robin Doerge, Events Manager at The Josselyn Center.

The main events for the Chicago Charities Grand Prix will be played this weekend at Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois.

For more information, http://www.platformtennis.org/Tournaments/Tournaments_By_Month/Chicago-Charities.htm